Albert Wendt

Albert Tuaopepe Wendt ONZ CNZM (born 27 August 1939) is a Samoan poet and writer who lives in New Zealand. Among his works is Leaves of the Banyan Tree, published in 1979.

Albert Wendt

Wendt in 2013
Born (1939-10-27) 27 October 1939
Known forAuthor
Academic background
EducationNew Plymouth Boys' High School[1]
Alma materVictoria University[1]
Academic work
DisciplinePacific Literature
Sub-disciplineNew Zealand Literature
InstitutionsThe University of Auckland


Albert Wendt was born in Apia, Samoa. He is of German heritage through his great-grandfather from his patrilineal ancestry. In 1988, Albert Wendt took up a professorship of English at the University of Auckland, the first person of Pacific ancestry to hold a professorial chair in New Zealand. In a 2002 interview, Wendt would describe his family heritage as "totally Samoan" even though he had a German surname, but did not explicitly deny his German heritage, which he has referenced in a number of his poetic works.[2]

In 1952, Wendt was honoured with a scholarship to attend the New Plymouth Boys' School in New Zealand, from which he graduated. After this, he studied at Ardmore Teacher's College and at the Victoria University of Wellington, graduating with an M.A. in History. His Master's thesis was about the Mau, Samoa's independence movement from colonialism during the first decade of the 1900s. His thesis was entitled Guardians and Wards: A study of the origins, causes and the first two years of the Mau in Western Samoa.[3]

Wendt returned in 1965 to Samoa, becoming headmaster of Samoa College. In 1974 he moved to Fiji, where he taught at the University of the South Pacific. There, he worked closely with the literary journal Mana, and edited in 1975 collections of poems from Fiji, Samoa, the New Hebrides (now Vanuatu), and the Solomon Islands. In 1977 Wendt returned home to set up the University of the South Pacific Center in Samoa.

Wendt's epic Leaves of the Banyan Tree (1979) won the 1980 New Zealand Book Awards. He was appointed to the first chair in Pacific literature at the University of the South Pacific in Suva. In 1988, he took up a professorship of Pacific studies at the University of Auckland. In 1999, Wendt was visiting Professor of Asian and Pacific Studies at the University of Hawaii. In the 2001 New Year Honours, he was appointed a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for services to literature.[4] In the 2013 Queen's Birthday Honours, he was appointed a member of the Order of New Zealand.[5]


Wendt is the subject of a documentary, The New Oceania, made in New Zealand by Point of View Productions. Directed by Shirley Horrocks, the film screened at the New Zealand International Film Festival and Hawaii International Film Festival in 2005, TVNZ 2006 and ABC Australia in 2007.[6]

Awards and honours


  • Comes the Revolution (1972)
  • The Contract (1972)
  • Sons for the Return Home (1973). ISBN 0-582-71718-3, ISBN 0-8248-1796-6 – also made into feature film
  • Flying Fox in a Freedom Tree: And Other Stories (1974). ISBN 0-582-71733-7, ISBN 0-582-71734-5 (pbk.) – also made into feature film
  • Inside Us the Dead. Poems 1961 to 1974 (1976). ISBN 0-582-71750-7
  • Pouliuli (1977). Novel. ISBN 0-582-71754-X, ISBN 0-8248-0728-6
  • Leaves of the Banyan Tree (1979). Novel. ISBN 0-582-71770-1, ISBN 0-385-17858-1 ; French translation Les feuilles du banian by Jean-Pierre Durix, éditions Au vent des îles, 2009.
  • Lali: A Pacific Anthology (edited; 1980). ISBN 0-582-71772-8
  • Shaman of Visions (1984)
  • The Birth and Death of the Miracle Man (1986). Stories. ISBN 0-670-80676-5
  • Ola (1991). Novel ISBN 0-14-015763-8, ISBN 0-8248-1585-8
  • Black Rainbow (1992). ISBN 0-14-016693-9, ISBN 0-8248-1586-6
  • Nuanua: Pacific Writing in English since 1980 (edited; 1995). ISBN 0-8248-1731-1
  • Photographs (1995). Poems. ISBN 1-86940-122-0
  • The Best of Albert Wendt's Short Stories (1999). ISBN 1-86941-392-X
  • The Book of the Black Star (2002). ISBN 1-86940-283-9
  • Whetu Moana: A Collection of Pacific Poems (edited; 2002). ISBN 0-8248-2756-2
  • The Mango's Kiss: a Novel (2003). ISBN 1-86941-580-9 ; French translation Le baiser de la mangue by Jean-Pierre Durix, éditions Au vent des îles, 2006.
  • The Songmaker's Chair (2004). Drama. ISBN 1-86969-031-1
  • The Adventures of Vela (2009). ISBN 1-86969-363-9
  • Ancestry (2012). Stories. ISBN 978-1775500377
  • From Mānoa to a Ponsonby Garden (2012). Poems. ISBN 978 1 86940 734 6
  • Out of the Vaipe, The Deadwater: A Writer's Early Life (2015). Memoir. ISBN 9780908321223
  • Breaking Connections (2015). Novel. ISBN 9781775502104 ; French translation by Jean-Pierre Durix, éditions Au vent des îles, 2018.


  • Patke, Rajiv Shridkar, Postcolonial Poetry in English: Oxford studies in Postcolonial Literatures in English, Oxford University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-19-929888-2


  1. "Wendt, Albert". Book Council of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  2. Interview with Albert Wendt: 1, Brandy Nālani McDougall, 12 August 2002
  3. "Guardians and Wards". New Zealand Electronic Text Centre. Retrieved 16 November 2009.
  4. "New Year honours list 2001". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 30 December 2000. Retrieved 29 July 2018.
  5. "Queen's Birthday honours list 2013". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 3 June 2013. Retrieved 18 June 2018.
  6. The New Oceania: Albert Wendt, writer Point of View Productions.
  7. "WENDT, Emeritus Professor Albert, ONZ, CNZM (2001)". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet of New Zealand. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  8. "Albert Wendt". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 21 July 2017.
  9. "Previous winners". Creative New Zealand. Retrieved 24 October 2013.
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